The most successful cadet corps in Nunavut during the past few years appears to be in its death throes in Naujaat this month.
The 3055 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps (RCACC) was dealt a devastating blow earlier this year when its commanding officer, Lloyd Francis, announced he was leaving the community after five years at the helm of the corps.
And, despite an exhaustive search, there has been no one willing to step up and keep the program running.
So, at a time when the corps should be holding weekly training sessions and planning for upcoming courses and competitions, members of the 3055 watch helplessly from the sidelines as time ticks away on their beloved awarding-winning corps.
Francis said there’s a good chance this is the end of the 3055 RCACC in Naujaat, at least for now.
He said with nobody coming forward to take over the program, things are not looking good for the corps’ immediate future.
“Everything is in place for someone to take over and I really figured someone would step up,” said Francis.
“It does require someone to become a cadet instructor cadre officer, so one person does need to step forward and go and do the training, but there’s people in Winnipeg willing to work with anyone who wants to do that and help them through the process.
“It’s sad to see a program like this that I – and those who came before me – put a lot of work into just go by the wayside, especially when everything is there for someone to take over.
“The kids are awesome and supportive, and the hamlet and the Naujaat business community fully support the program, so there’s people there willing to lend support and help out.”
The 3055 RCACC had 35 cadets out for its final parade after averaging between 20-to-30 cadets for every meeting or function during the past year.
And, as of this past week, there were still two cadets in the south representing Naujaat.
Warrant Officer Jack Kopak was lending a hand at the cadet summer training centre in Connaught, Ont., while Warrant Officer Neevie Kidlapik was participating in the Yukon Paddle, canoeing from Whitehorse to Dawson City in the Yukon.
Francis said the Naujaat cadets are holding their collective breath, hoping against hope someone will step up in the 11th hour to take control of the corps.
He said at this point, the corps’ future is pretty much down to a Hail Mary pass or prayer.
“Capt. Erin McKinley, who works in Winnipeg, is planning to travel to Naujaat during the first few weeks in September to see if she can recruit any staff, but I was trying to get staff there for the past year and I wasn’t very successful.
“Having no cadet corps in Naujaat will take a lot of opportunities away from these kids, including having something positive to do one or two times every week, learning new skills, increasing their self-confidence and self-esteem, going on land trips and participating in community service.
“I can safely say more than $500,000 was spent on various trips for the Naujaat kids during my five years there, and, for many of them – unless they travelled to Winnipeg on medical – it was their first time out of Naujaat or, at the very least, Nunavut.
“So, the demise of the corps would take away the ability for these kids – all totally funded by the cadet program – to get out and actively explore the world around them, which, in turn, can motivate them to go down south to attend college or university.”
Naujaat senior administrative officer (SAO) Rob Hedley said as an SAO he views the demise of the 3055 RCACC as the unfortunate loss of a solid asset for the community.
He said, to him personally, the collapse of the corps would be a sad, sad day for Naujaat.
“We’ve tried – even long before Lloyd left – to see what we could do to resurrect the program and find somebody to get in there and keep it running – even at a diminished capacity if need be – for at least another year,” said Hedley.
“Unfortunately, it’s just not working out.”
Hedley said the qualifications needed to run the program have made their search for Francis’s successor more difficult.
He said although the immediate future looks bleak, he’s not prepared to totally throw in the towel just yet.
“I’m still actively trying to get the program going in some capacity this year, and I do have people who could possibly do the instructing part, but what we need is a commander – someone who has a minimum of Grade 12 and can go and take the required training – and that’s really been the difficult part to get done.
“The best-case scenario would be for me to find someone over the next little bit to take the officer’s training so that we only have a three-or-four-month lull in the program, but that’s being really optimistic at this point.
“Our mayor is a big advocate for the cadet program and we’ll continue beating the drum looking for someone, but, the people in the community who would probably do it, including myself, are involved with so many other things that they just don’t have the time.
“We don’t want to lose a program that keeps kids engaged in positive activities and makes them better citizens, so we’ll keep beating the bushes for however long it takes until we find someone to resurrect it.”